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  1. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by MurrayMinchin
    Good point Jon! We could all have a different definition!!
    My concept of max black time is: the minimum exposure through the negatives clear edge to print as black...including selenium toning. (Each contrast setting has a different max black time). When you do your first work print at normal contrast settings at max black time with normal developer dilution/time and toning there is nowhere to hide - the beauty or ugly reality of your negatives exposure/development choices are unavoidable. From there you can make informed printing decisions.
    Murray
    Thanks for the additional comment regarding the clear edge (or some use a blank frame if rollfilm). That was an assumption that should have been clearly stated in my post. You may have just cleared up confusion for a lot of non-Max Black practitioners so for this I thank you greatly. Using anything other than a clear area of the film for establishing a "minimum time to max black" setting would of course eliminate the "control" feature of the test and therefore render it pointless. (Which, I sense, the majority already seem to feel about it anyways!!)

    Jon

    PS: Interestingly, the control feature of the max black test really saved my bacon a while back. Briefly, my thermometer was damaged in a fall and the first developing run after the damage (unfortunately 9 rolls) showed up as flat and underdeveloped when I ran my max black test. Without the control aspect of the max black test I never would have spotted the problem so quickly and I might have found myself printing on grade 3.5 forevermore as "normal."

  2. #22

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    I know this thread is a bit long in the tooth, and I apologize for bringing it back up, but someone has to stop Fred Picker from turning in his grave, and it might as well be me!

    The MTFMB test can only be done through a sheet of film that is unexposed, but developed normally. This is referred to as "film base + fog", which has more density than the edge of the film.

    You expose a piece of paper to a series of short exposures, covering (or revealing) about an inch of paper each time. Picker recommended 3 seconds, and it's what I've always used. Develop the sheet normally, fix and place in water.

    What you're looking for is the first "step" in the progression which is as black as the one that follows it. If it's the first step or the last step, you do the test over, until you get one in the middle that fits the bill.

    You must also remember that 5 bursts of 3 seconds each is not the same thing as a continuous exposure of 15 seconds. If you determined the MTFMB using 3-second intervals, then you must also print the proper proof using 3-second bursts. If the first blackest strip was wedge #5, and you make a proof using a 15 second exposure, you have overexposed the paper.

    The purpose of the proper proof (as Picker called it) is to show you what's in your negative, or rather, what's in your negative from the viewpoint of your particular printing paper, which is why you have to print your proofs on the same, fine paper you intend to make the final print on, so you can see what it is you have to work with.

    The procedures for determining MTFMB are not voodoo, and they don't restrict anyone's creativity (if I had a dime for every time I heard that one...). It's just a tool, designed to show you what's actually in your negative, as opposed to what you'd like to believe is in your negative. The truth hurts, but it's better than spending hours trying to make a fine print out of a negative that just doesn't have the right stuff.

  3. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Claire Senft
    For printing continuous tone negatives trying to have a maximum black in a print is likely to produce poor prints with loss of visibility of shadow detail. It is, in my opinion, much better to achieve sufficient black and whiteness in the print for the intended viewing condition. Expose for the white and choose filter or paper grade to get things just dark enough to be convincing.
    I think Claire is right on here. Fred Picker's method of finding the optimum development time by first finding a maximum black of an unexposed negative, and then using that same time to print a zone VIII negative provides the photographer with the ideal film development time (this also assumes that a test has been done to nail the appropriate film speed). This enables you to accomplish appropriate proofing by running your contact sheets at a time to get maximum black in clear film edge. Now once you've accomplished that technical stuff, you then focus on what Claire articluated. That is, you utilize your proof sheet (where you used maximum black to achieve proofing time) to find a proof of a negative that looks good to the eye. Then you print that negative by exposing for the high value in your test print. Once you determine that time, you expose the entire print. At that point you should have a good pilot print. Then, burn and dodge the print until you are able to achieve the look that you previsualized when you photographed the scene in the field. The video entitled Printing with Fred Picker covers this process. These videos show up on Ebay regularly.
    Often wrong, but never in doubt!

  4. #24
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    Good method for PROOF and early WORK prints...not fine prints.

    (Had to say that again because somebody will think this is used for fine prints )

    Murray

  5. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by MurrayMinchin
    Good method for PROOF and early WORK prints...not fine prints.

    (Had to say that again because somebody will think this is used for fine prints )

    Murray
    It is used for making fine prints, as a jumping-off point, to tell you what you have to work with. From there, it's up to you. If your vision is that the shadows should be printed as solid black, that's your artistic choice. If the Zone VIII clouds should appear as Zone V in the print, that's your artistic choice.

    But the proper proof tells you what's in your negative, from the viewpoint of the printing paper you're using. Isn't that a good starting point, on the road toward making the best print you can make?

  6. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by seadrive
    It is used for making fine prints, as a jumping-off point, to tell you what you have to work with. From there, it's up to you.
    Yup, I agree - it's a great way to make work prints.

    I put that last bit in there as a pre-emptive strike against the posts slagging us (wrongly) for making fine prints *only* at max black times.

    Murray

  7. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by MurrayMinchin
    Yup, I agree - it's a great way to make work prints.

    I put that last bit in there as a pre-emptive strike against the posts slagging us (wrongly) for making fine prints *only* at max black times.

    Murray
    Well this whole thing about work prints vs. fine prints is another conumdrum that I believe is easily solvable. First all, any print short of the fine print is a work print. Fred Picker believed (and proved) that you can go from a "work print" to a fine print in one printing session if you have all of your processes properly callibrated as seadrive mentioned. That is, once you determine that a negative has the capability to make a proper proof (i.e. a negative that is properly exposed and has all of the emotional information that you previsualized), you should be able to make a "fine print" from that negative in one printing session of about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Fred demonstrated that it is more wasteful to make so-called work prints in the darkroom to be set aside and studied and then make fine prints later. Many photographers won't stick with one negative until it is completed because of the focus that is placed upon volume rather than quality. That is the whole point of coming up with a properly exposed and properly developed negative. His tape on this subject is well worth viewing...
    Often wrong, but never in doubt!

  8. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by seadrive
    I know this thread is a bit long in the tooth, and I apologize for bringing it back up, but someone has to stop Fred Picker from turning in his grave, and it might as well be me!
    The MTFMB test can only be done through a sheet of film that is unexposed, but developed normally. This is referred to as "film base + fog", which has more density than the edge of the film...
    Can you be clearer on what is making Fred spin? Is it that the test is valid for sheet film but not roll film ("can only be done through a sheet of film...")? Would 9.5-inch aero roll film be disqualified whereas 4x5 sheet film is allowed? Or is the test valid for the center of any film but not the edges? Does this mean that my 30 years of max black testing for Minox rollfilm has been for nought? Minox film is certainly not sheetfilm, and I am having difficulty determining where the middle ends and the edge begins. Or is the concept of developed normally the key? What if I develop tired? Or drunk? I thought I had this down but now I am totally confused!

    j

  9. #29
    lee
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    the biggest key to making a fine print is knowing what a fine print ought to look like. You have to spend some time looking at prints so you have some basis for what you are attempted to accomplish. you can have all the max black you want but it you dont know what the other tones look like and how to get them on the neg and then from the neg to the paper, you will waste a lot of time and paper. Split printing is the easiest way to get to the fine print in my estimation.

    lee\c

  10. #30

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    max black

    I totally agree with Lee on this one. I used to do alot of testing ala FRED and it was good priming for the future;but it has to end somewhere and that somewhere is making prints. Go and get out to some Galleries and SEE some really well made prints. Better yet take a trip to a major city where there is a constant rotation of excellant work being shown. I spent the better part of my
    highschool years ducking out of school and going into NYC to look at prints in either museums or the galleries. The next best thing you can do is to buy something you like and put it on your wall. That way there is something to compare it to. For $25 I will send anyone a full scale 5x7 contact print archivally
    processed and mounted-sent right to your front door.Money gladly refunded if not happy. PM if interested.
    Best, Peter Schrager

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